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Dignity in and at work: why it matters

Bolton, S.C. (2007) Dignity in and at work: why it matters. In: Dimensions of Dignity at Work. Elsevier, London, pp. 3-18. ISBN 978-0-7506-8333-3

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Throughout the history of social science, dignity is a word that is continually used to express concern about various aspects of work. Within these concerns we see a set of implicit understandings of what dignity is, and what it does, and profoundly, dignity as an essential need of the human spirit. Beginning with some of the earliest insights that inform contemporary analyses of work we can see that, in different ways and relating their concerns to different eras, writers on work and organisation each conceptualise increasing industrialisation as entailing a possible denial of dignity. Most recently the dignity at work debate been colonised by the focus on bullying and harassment. The high profile campaign for 'dignity at work' (cf: Amicus and The Andrea Adams Trust) draws attention to the everyday bullying behaviours that occur in the workplace serving to intimidate and oppress employees, coming both from the workplace hierarchy, and, whether through cultural consensus or individual malintent, from peers. This reflects a feeling that some fundamental rights are coming under pressure. The proposed UK 'dignity at work act' advises that 'every employee shall have the right to dignity at work'.